CHECKLISTS

Timothy and Titus – Inconspicuous Leadership

1 Timothy 5 checklistI am a list maker…even in retirement from my secular work. For me, what doesn’t get listed, doesn’t get done. It is also very rewarding for me to check that item off the list when it is accomplished. The list has a progression of priorities. One task cannot happen until another task is completed. And so life goes with my lists guiding my behavior and productivity.

As I journal each morning in my conversational prayer with God, the Father, His Spirit guides me to make another list that helps me to mature and grow in Him. I am convicted of some of those “fruits of the Spirit” that I have not tended to or cultivated, have ignored or left undone. His Holy Spirit redirects my thoughts and helps me form a list of tasks that will help me improve my behavior. “Keep a close check on yourself”, writes Paul to Timothy. For me, that means to make a spiritual checklist that keeps me in close contact with the will and purpose of our Father, God and helps me to grow closer to Him.

We can do nothing of significance without God. I am convinced that He guides us to all things that are good for our growth and aid our learning about Him and how He works. Paul also gives Timothy sound advice about how to treat those whom God has called to lead with character traits with another list of how to lead. This list still applies to us today. The theme of this episode seems to be; Know God, Know Yourself, Know The Message, Know Your Audience. Our deeds, good and bad, will be evident. Be driven by God’s love in us.

1 Timothy 5, The Message

17-18 Give a bonus to leaders who do a good job, especially the ones who work hard at preaching and teaching. Scripture tells us, “Don’t muzzle a working ox” and “A worker deserves his pay.”

19 Don’t listen to a complaint against a leader that isn’t backed up by two or three responsible witnesses.

20 If anyone falls into sin, call that person on the carpet. Those who are inclined that way will know right off they can’t get by with it.

21-23 God and Jesus and angels all back me up in these instructions. Carry them out without favoritism, without taking sides. Don’t appoint people to church leadership positions too hastily. If a person is involved in some serious sins, you don’t want to become an unwitting accomplice. In any event, keep a close check on yourself. And don’t worry too much about what the critics will say. Go ahead and drink a little wine, for instance; it’s good for your digestion, good medicine for what ails you.

24-25 The sins of some people are blatant and march them right into court. The sins of others don’t show up until much later. The same with good deeds. Some you see right off, but none are hidden forever.

1 Timothy 5 check yourselfLEADERSHIP PRINCIPLE #6: Keep a Close Check on Yourself

Leadership Characteristics –

–Fully rely on God. Trust Him with all you are and all you have. We are His. All we have is His.
–Ask God “if there is anything offensive to you, cleanse me.” as the Psalmist prayed.
–Repent with a heart and mind not wanting to return to the old life.
–Look full into the face of Jesus, our Master, Lord and Savior with laser focus so we know what direction to take next.
–“Keep a close check on yourself.” Avoid, “he did it, I can, too” or “my sin is not as bad as his sin” or “everybody’s doing it” mentality.
–Ask God for wisdom, insight and understanding.
–Allow God’s transformation to continue in our lives.
–Ask God to make your lists of to BE and to DO. HE will prioritize your lists in ways you cannot imagine! Where He guides, He provides help all along the journey.
–Do all in a Spirit of love for God and others.
–Care enough to confront others with God’s love and concern for their spiritual well-being and growth.

Warning   The things on our spiritual check list can never be crossed off because we’ll be working on them our whole lives. By listing we are reminding ourselves of what we need to work on to “keep a close check” on our lives. It is only by The Atonement of Jesus Christ can we accomplish anything of eternal significance.

Dear Heavenly Father,
You have convinced me that we must do spiritual “business” with You each day to improve our being in You. Thank you for helping us on this journey. Thank you for Your Holy Spirit that points out things in our behavior that could cause us to crash…before crashing. Thank you for always being with us, guiding and directing, loving and protecting and challenging us to grow and bear Fruit. Continue to transform me. Transform your church. Transform the world through your church.
In Jesus Name, Amen

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“BECAUSE YOU BELIEVED”

I wonder sometimes if my requests to God are just words thrown into the airspace due to my desperation.  I wonder if I really believe what I say I believe about God is really real?  When I stop to consider, ponder, meditate on His promises and revisit the day of my salvation, the answer is yes, I believe!  This “exercise” of faith is important to evaluate the depth of our believing faith in the One and Only who can change lives with His unchangeable love, mercy and grace.  Jesus tells us at the end of this healing story that who we are and what we truly believe inside reveals the depth of our faith. 

What you and I really believe will always be reflected in our behavior in this world while we wait expectantly for the next eternal home…”because you believed”.

PAUSE FOR PRAYER  (“Have a Little Talk with Jesus” moment)

What do I believe? 

Who am I because I believe? 

What do I do because I believe? 

What do I say and how do I say it because I believe? 

How do I behave each day, all day long, because of what I believe?

What do I think about most because of what I believe?

Crowds push and shove to be near Jesus who has now gained popularity for healing everyone who comes to Him. But what does each individual in that mass of people really believe?  Since God knows hearts, Jesus tells them clearly and uncovers the depth of their faith.  Yikes.

What would Jesus say about the depth of our faith as believers?  “I tell you the truth, I haven’t seen faith like this in all Israel!”, said Jesus to the mostly Jewish crowd.  One thing we can always count on—Jesus will always reveal Truth because He is Truth.  I love that!  In a world of charades, playacting, work enough to get by, blaming instead of owning our mistakes, gossip, lies and game playing, Truth will always, sooner than later, be revealed.  Faith is revealed.

Do I really believe that what I think and believe about God is really real?  Ask yourself this question often.  Because the enemy tries to get between our faith and God daily.

EXERCISE YOUR FAITH MUSCLES BY REMEMBERING WHAT GOD HAS ALREADY DONE

Jesus shows us that faith reveals what we really believe.  Stop and pause to answer this question for life today, right now:  What did Jesus do or provide because you had the faith to ask and believe?

Because I believed, God ________________.  Fill in the blank.  THIS is the testimony of our faith!

Matthew—The Law Fulfilled

Matthew 8:5-13, NLT

The Faith of a Roman Officer

When Jesus returned to Capernaum, a Roman officer came and pleaded with him, “Lord, my young servant lies in bed, paralyzed and in terrible pain.”

Jesus said, “I will come and heal him.”

But the officer said, “Lord, I am not worthy to have you come into my home. Just say the word from where you are, and my servant will be healed. I know this because I am under the authority of my superior officers, and I have authority over my soldiers. I only need to say, ‘Go,’ and they go, or ‘Come,’ and they come. And if I say to my slaves, ‘Do this,’ they do it.”

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10 When Jesus heard this, he was amazed. Turning to those who were following him, he said, “I tell you the truth, I haven’t seen faith like this in all Israel! 11 And I tell you this, that many Gentiles will come from all over the world—from east and west—and sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob at the feast in the Kingdom of Heaven. 12 But many Israelites—those for whom the Kingdom was prepared—will be thrown into outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

13 Then Jesus said to the Roman officer, “Go back home. Because you believed, it has happened.” And the young servant was healed that same hour.

I’m now singing a chorus I sang in my youth, “Faith in God Can Move a Mighty Mountain” as worship to God.

Faith in God can move a mighty mountain,
Faith can calm the troubled sea;
Faith can make a desert like a fountain,
Faith can bring the victory.

Followed by singing the chorus of “The Solid Rock”

My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness
I dare not trust the sweetest frame
But wholly lean on Jesus’ name

Abba, Father in Heaven,

Our hope, faith, trust, is built upon what you have provided in your gift of salvation.  Jesus, you are the foundation of faith that is built on believing all you revealed to us when you came down from heaven to seek and to save us, the lost, the hopeless in an unbelieving world.  You turned the world upside down and inside out with what believing, trusting and obeying I all about.  You are still doing it!  Thank you.  Thank you for your mercy and unended grace as we build our faith strong enough to move mountains with you. You are God and we are not.  I believe in You.  Life is all about you.  My life is in you!

In Jesus Name, Amen.  I believe.

Faith truly is the Victory that overcomes the world!  (Yes, another old hymn, it’s that kind of day!)

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NEW MISSION—NEW TESTIMONY!

There are many life circumstances that cause depression, anxieties of all kinds coupled with worry and fear.  Some are self-inflicted.  Some are not.  Sometimes in the middle of it all, we push people away because we have lost hope.  Our only mission seems to be to succumb to our present situation.  People shy away from a person who is needy because it is uncomfortable for them.  So, as desperation seeps in, we feel alone.  Very alone.  We might, on a good day, seek other people like us who are going through the same thing so we can be in misery together, but we don’t seek real relief.  We just stay isolated from the rest of the world.  Hopeless.

“Suddenly”

This word leaps off the page for me this morning.  What was the last time you did something suddenly, foregoing all risk, because you were led by the Spirit of God to do so?  When was the last time you obeyed, without overthinking it, and suddenly ran to the One and Only who would guide you to restoration and hope of life eternal?  I love how this man, isolated to the rest of the world by his illness, “suddenly” decided to approach Jesus, seeking help from the One and Only who he decided and was convinced in his mind would indeed heal him.  What a wonderful thought this morning for all of us who isolate because we think we have no hope until “suddenly” led by the Holy Spirit, we jump up from the ashes of defeat to victory in Jesus!

“…if you are willing, you can heal me and make me clean”, proclaims the leper who approached Jesus in the crowd with great risk of being driven away.  We learn from this man that even in desperation, he asks for Jesus’ will to be done, “if you are willing”–you know what I want but what do YOU want, Jesus? We learn from this man’s humility that God’s will must triumph over our want. The man’s humbled, yielded will is probably what first got Jesus’ attention.  What do you think?  All we surmise from this point is this man is on his knees before the Son of God asking for His will for his hopeless life of isolation because of a flesh eating disease. 

“I am willing, be healed” is the response of a loving Savior and Lord.  But wait!  Jesus doesn’t stop there!  Jesus then delivers HIS plan and purpose for this restored, healed man.   Obey the Law, he tells the healed man, by showing those in charge that you are completely clean and restored to health.  This was protection for the man from the community who had pushed him out.  The authorities must clear him for passage to return to his family, make a living, and rebuild relationships with his friends!  Cleared, he can now, without fear of being stoned and driven away, return to those he loved most.  But first, he had to be “cleared for take-off”, so to speak, before his new life and mission given to him by Jesus, the One and Only, who did not come to abolish the Law but to fulfill could begin.  The now healed man had to be shown cleansed and given the “go-ahead”.

He is no longer “the leper”.  Jesus gave the leper and new attitude with a new way of life with a new persona—”Healed and Restored”!  Jesus then told him his new mission.  Testify.  Go tell.  Go tell your story so others may know hope.  Wow!

“This will be a public testimony that you have been cleansed.”

Matthew—The Law Fulfilled

Matthew 8:1-4, NLT

Jesus Heals a Man with Leprosy

Large crowds followed Jesus as he came down the mountainside. Suddenly, a man with leprosy approached him and knelt before him. “Lord,” the man said, “if you are willing, you can heal me and make me clean.”

Jesus reached out and touched him. “I am willing,” he said. “Be healed!” And instantly the leprosy disappeared. Then Jesus said to him, “Don’t tell anyone about this. Instead, go to the priest and let him examine you. Take along the offering required in the law of Moses for those who have been healed of leprosy. This will be a public testimony that you have been cleansed.”

In the background of my mind the song, “My Testimony” is playing.  (By Elevation)

I saw satan fall like lightning
I saw darkness run for cover
But the miracle that I just can’t get over
My name is registered in heaven

I believe in signs and wonders
I have resurrection power
Still the miracle that I just can’t get over
My name is registered in heaven
My praise belongs to you forever

This is my testimony from death to life
Cause grace rewrote my story, I’ll testify
By Jesus Christ the Righteous
I’m justified
This is my testimony
This is my testimony

Abba, Father in Heaven,

Great are you Lord!  Thank you for saving my soul and making me whole.  Thank you for restoration and healing over the years.  Thank you for lessons learned through mistakes and missteps.  Thank you for protection and provision.  Thank you for all you have done, are doing and will do.  May your Kingdom come and reign in me and all around me.  May your glory of you in me be my testimony.  May YOUR WILL be done in every detail of this new day.  Give us this day all we need to be a testimony of your goodness and saving grace.  Lead us not to temptations to be shy and hold back what we know about you.  Deliver us from evil.  For you have all power, to you be all glory!  Forever.

In Jesus Name, Amen

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ROCK AND SAND

We can listen to someone speak, only be impressed and applaud what is said.  “Ooh, good sermon, Pastor”, as we walk out the door.  Allow me to let you in on some insider information.  We consider those words as a half-hearted, “sandy” attempt to compliment how the words were said, but not really intended for life-change.  You see, most pastors do not consider these words endearing after pouring their hearts out with what God has told them to say.  But if we sincerely said, “I understood what you said and I know what I need to change in my life” is an encouragement that tells the speaker that what was said was understood for growing lives.  Yes, this would be taken as “rock-solid” affirmation of what was said.  As former pastors and speakers, we sometimes knew when a sermon or talk only impressed for the moment but not internalized for life-change.  But that does not stop us from saying what God wants said.

We can all read something inspiring and feel encouraged by the words for the moment.  We can be the loudest singer who worships, but if we do nothing about what was said, sung or read, changing little to nothing in our lives, Jesus says we are foolish, building our lives on sandy slopes that eventually the sea of trouble consumes.  But if we hear AND follow God’s Word given to us, attaching ourselves into the bedrock of our salvation, we begin to grow in wisdom, building our very lives on the rock-solid foundation of Jesus Christ.  Troubles rain down but we will not turn from Him for we know He is right beside us.  Some people will rise up against us, but still, we are firm, standing on the rock.  Sand shifts but embedded rock does not.  Have you ever stood on the sandy shore of the ocean?  You can’t stand there for long, can you?

Jesus tells us we are walking a slippery slope of unwise decisions making which leads to collapsible living if we do not hear, trust, follow and obey.  When we are living on sandy slopes, we will always wonder why everything falls apart in our lives when troubles come.  We first blame others, blame lack of funds, lack of friends, lack of knowledge when what we really lack is Jesus, the Solid Rock. 

So, the most important question to ask ourselves this morning is, who is the One and Only upon whom we are basing all of our lives? 

Are we walking a slipper slope of faith OR standing on the Solid Rock which cannot be moved?

Matthew-The Law Fulfilled

Matthew 7:24-29

Building on a Solid Foundation

24 “Anyone who listens to my teaching and follows it is wise, like a person who builds a house on solid rock. 25 Though the rain comes in torrents and the floodwaters rise and the winds beat against that house, it won’t collapse because it is built on bedrock. 26 But anyone who hears my teaching and doesn’t obey it is foolish, like a person who builds a house on sand. 27 When the rains and floods come and the winds beat against that house, it will collapse with a mighty crash.”

28 When Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were amazed at his teaching, 29 for he taught with real authority—quite unlike their teachers of religious law.

And we’re singing…

My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness;
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
But wholly lean on Jesus’ name.

  • Refrain:
    On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
    All other ground is sinking sand,
    All other ground is sinking sand.

When darkness veils His lovely face,
I rest on His unchanging grace;
In every high and stormy gale,
My anchor holds within the veil.

His oath, His covenant, His blood
Support me in the whelming flood;
When all around my soul gives way,
He then is all my hope and stay.

When He shall come with trumpet sound,
Oh, may I then in Him be found;
Dressed in His righteousness alone,
Faultless to stand before the throne.

Abba, Father in Heaven,

Only You.  Hallowed is your Name.  Great are you Lord!  You are my Solid Rock on which I stand.  You are my wisdom, strength, understanding, insight, love, mercy and grace.  Grow me in and through troubles and help me stand firm in faith.  Help me to love like you love me.  Keep me from walking in sand but to stand firm on The Rock.

In Jesus Name, Amen

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TO TELL THE TRUTH

There was a show that has made a comeback recently called, To Tell the Truth.  Three people would tell the same story of who they were, what they did and how they did it.  A panel of judges would ask various questions trying to determine who was lying and who was telling the truth.  The “liars” where sometimes tripped up and it would be obvious who was the truth teller.  But sometimes the panel was fooled.  Does this happen it real life?  Wouldn’t be kind of awesome if liar’s pants really did catch fire?  It would so much easier to tell who is telling the truth, right?

As believers, sometimes we try to fool people with our self-righteousness when our hearts are cold, our minds bitter with the past toward people who wronged us, making our souls be less than pure.  We do life to please people not God.  We do just enough to get by but not fully enjoying what God has invited us to be and do because our hearts are not motivated with what He sees as right.  We grumble and complain more and more and wonder why people begin to shy away from us.  If we were fruit trees, our “fruit” would be seriously sad to see and bitter to taste.  If the manager of the orchard comes along and evaluates our lives, we may be cut down, taken from where we are and put where we don’t want to be.

Seek what is Truth.  Seek Jesus who IS Truth.  Becoming a believer means living like Jesus taught us to live, loving unconditionally, seeing the best in others and encouraging them, thinking the best of situations and circumstances not the worst.  Paul expands Jesus’ teaching on the mount.  He explains how to bear good fruit by allowing the Holy Spirit take over the growing process.  He lists what the work of the Holy Spirit can do in us. 

“But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!

Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to his cross and crucified them there. Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives. Let us not become conceited, or provoke one another, or be jealous of one another.”  Galatians 5:22-26, NLT

What do we learn?  We cannot do this alone.  We cannot grow without the Holy Spirit’s power working in us.  We cannot even begin until we have nailed our own selfishness to Jesus’ cross to die!  That’s where all sin went to die forever.  From death to the old fruitless, selfish life to an eternal growing, fruitful life with Christ!  This is serious Truth.

Matthew—The Law Fulfilled

Matthew 7:15-23, NLT

The Tree and Its Fruit

15 “Beware of false prophets who come disguised as harmless sheep but are really vicious wolves. 16 You can identify them by their fruit, that is, by the way they act. Can you pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? 17 A good tree produces good fruit, and a bad tree produces bad fruit. 18 A good tree can’t produce bad fruit, and a bad tree can’t produce good fruit. 19 So every tree that does not produce good fruit is chopped down and thrown into the fire. 20 Yes, just as you can identify a tree by its fruit, so you can identify people by their actions.

True Disciples

21 “Not everyone who calls out to me, ‘Lord! Lord!’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Only those who actually do the will of my Father in heaven will enter. 22 On judgment day many will say to me, ‘Lord! Lord! We prophesied in your name and cast out demons in your name and performed many miracles in your name.’ 23 But I will reply, ‘I never knew you. Get away from me, you who break God’s laws.’

Abba, Father in Heaven,

The last thing I want you to say to me is, “I never knew you” so go ahead and do what you must in me so I will trust and obey quickly with a heart motivated to please you alone because of my love for you.  May your Holy Spirit speak to my heart about what is offensive to you and together correct those flaws in my character.  May the power of your Holy Spirit do His growing work in me so that I can be more fruitful in my life.  Most of all, help me to know Truth and live Truth.

In Jesus Name, Amen

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ME FIRST!

As a former first grade teacher, one of the most troublesome display of our human “me first” attitude was lining up to go from point a to point b in the course of a day.  Chairs went flying, little feet scrambled and tripped on other feet, big ones pushed little ones out of the way, little ones fought back and some just cried.  I wouldn’t get to the end of my calm words, “Let’s go to music, let’s see if you can walk over to the door quietly…” before chaos ensued. I tried all kinds of ways to calm this herd of heathenistic behavior gathering at the door every time we needed to leave the classroom. 

I prayed about it. I prayed about everything as a teacher. I remembered Jesus words, “The first shall be last and last shall be first” and had an idea.  After the “line-up” order was given that morning I said nothing as they clamored for position and rank in line, pushing, shoving and squeezing into position.  When they realized I was saying nothing about their bad behavior, all became very quiet.  They finally looked up to see what was going on.  They stared those little eyes at me, still pushing a bit, because they were NOT social distancing as we say these days. 

I then said, “follow me”.  I took the hand of the first child who had pushed her way to the front of the line and led the rest of the kids around the room, making a circle.  I simply said, “stay where you are in line”.  I then went to the last kid in line who never pushed or shoved.  He wanted no part of that behavior and felt it wasn’t worth the fight.  I took HIS hand and led the line with the last one who daily obeyed the words of his teacher.  He became the first to enter the activity they all enjoyed.  No words.  Just sighs.  Point made.  Thank you, Jesus!

(NOTE:  Jesus made the statement “many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first” (Matthew 19:30) in the context of His encounter with the rich young ruler (Matthew 19:16–30). After the young man turned away from Jesus, unable to give up his great wealth (verse 22), Jesus’ disciples asked the Lord what reward they would have in heaven, since they had given up everything to follow Him (verses 27–30). Jesus promised them “a hundred times as much,” plus eternal life (verse 29). Then He said, “But many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first” (verse 30).  Many will not “get it” and refuse to give up what they hold onto in this world so dearly.)

Speaking of good behaviors, as teachers we would always post “The Golden Rule” in our classrooms, in various ways.  Most of the world (and some teachers) probably do not know this quote originally came from the Bible through Jesus’ words on the mount.  He was trying to get the crowds to do what is right and good without waiting for someone to do it for you.  Be the first to do the right thing.  Be consistent with hearts  motivated to be who God wants us to be.  Be the example of righteousness in light of the two greatest commandments, Love God, Love Others.  But not many will.  They want to be first, have it all, and have it their way.  The road to being and doing the will of God is narrow because few choose to travel this path.  It cost us all we have to gain all that God has for us.  (A MORE than fair trade!)  But many can’t let go of what is tangible and temporary for what is eternal.

Matthew—The Law Fulfilled

Matthew 7:12-14, NLT

The Golden Rule

12 “Do to others whatever you would like them to do to you. This is the essence of all that is taught in the law and the prophets.

The Narrow Gate

13 “You can enter God’s Kingdom only through the narrow gate. The highway to hell is broad, and its gate is wide for the many who choose that way. 14 But the gateway to life is very narrow and the road is difficult, and only a few ever find it.

ONE LAST THOUGHT…

I’m reminded of another story…(shocker, I know.)  A mother was preparing pancakes for her two sons one Saturday morning. Kevin and Ryan just loved pancakes. In fact, they loved their mom’s pancakes so much that on this particular Saturday morning they began to argue (as brothers will do) over who would get the first pancake. Five-year-old Kevin and three-year-old Ryan were not only fussing; they were also pushing and shoving, trying, each one, to be first in line and get the first pancake.

Their mother saw the opportunity for a moral lesson, so she said, “Boys, boys! Calm down! I want to ask you a question. If Jesus were here with us this morning, what do you think he would say?” No answer. “Well,” she continued, “I’ll tell you what he would say. He would say, ‘Please let my brother have the first pancake; I can wait.’ ”

In quick reply, five-year-old Kevin said, “Great idea, Mom!” and then he turned to his younger brother and said, “Ryan, you be Jesus!”

We chuckle but I need to ask, WHO will be Jesus to a desperate world in need of a Savior and His teachings?  Find the narrow gate and follow Jesus right through the door to heaven!  We don’t have to be first, we just need to be in line!

Abba, Father in Heaven,

Great are you, Lord.  Reveal your glory and power to us today through whatever means you decide.  Show us your will and plan for each of our lives.  Help us to love you back with ALL our hearts, minds and souls.  Help us then to love each other like you love us with unconditional love, grace and mercy.  Help us to lay down all the earthly that stands between you and us.  Help us to “be Jesus” by obeying what You tells us to be and do through the prompting of Your Holy Spirit living in us.  Thank you, Lord for saving my soul.  Thank you for teaching me still.  I’m not there yet. 

In Jesus Name, Amen

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IT’S ALL IN THE SEEKING!

Ooh, I want that sofa!  That will be so comfortable in our living room!  Now, I need to find what matches.  Maybe a couple of chairs will make the set complete.  Oh, but look at the grungy wall behind it.  We need to look for paint!  Don’t you think the flooring needs replacing, too?  We need to look for what’s out there.  What are other people doing?  And, we begin seeking.

We need to replace our car with a newer one that has less mileage.  Our car gets us around town but we wouldn’t trust it on long trips.  I like red, don’t you like red?  Who doesn’t like red?  So, we begin seeking and searching for just the right car.  A red one.

We long for things–more and better things.  We spend enormous amounts of time just seeking.  The more we seek for things, we long for those things even more.  The hunger for more stuff grows until it overcomes all our thinking.  These obsessions most often  result in bad stewardship, spending our lives and resources to get what we think we must have by going into mountains of debt.

We pray to God for what we think we want and need.  We ask Him for the new car, the newer home, better clothes.  Yes, when God doesn’t deliver in the time we think He should we put all these things on credit.  We are seeking only what we see—the tangible, hoping that getting those things will make us happy.  Is that faith or failure to communicate with God in effective prayer?

Many people take the following passage for today (Matthew 7) out of context.  Let’s back up to what Jesus said earlier in his mountain message. (Matthew 6)

“Don’t store up treasures here on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal. Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal. Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.” Matthew 6:19-21, NLT

Ouch!  Do we have a heart condition?

“No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other; you will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and be enslaved to money.”  Matthew 6:24

Uh oh. To whom is our heart devoted?  Who do I seek? This is a better question.

“That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing?”  Matthew 6:25

Mm.  Do we seek life eternal more than our temporary “fixes” on our brief journey on earth?  Seeking the latter brings on heaps of worry and stress in trying to get what we think we need without asking God for what HE knows we need most.  Jesus says,

“And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith?”  Matthew 6:30

God knows what we want, sees our thoughts, hears our prayers but provides exactly we need.  Jesus said,

These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.”  Matthew 6:32-33

What is dominating our thoughts right now, today?

Effective praying that Jesus is teaching about involves faithful seeking.  That’s why He prefaced the following thoughts with HOW to pray,

“Our Father in heaven,
    may your name be kept holy.
May your Kingdom come soon.
May your will be done on earth,
    as it is in heaven.
11 Give us today the food we need,
12 and forgive us our sins,
    as we have forgiven those who sin against us.
13 And don’t let us yield to temptation,
    but rescue us from the evil one.”

(Emphasis mine, Matthew 6:9-13)

Do we see the pattern, the perfect example, from the Son of God, that shows us effective, faithful praying? 

  1. First Seek God as Our Father, Knocking on the door of our Holy God.
  2. Ask for His Kingdom to come and enter our hearts, minds and souls.
  3. Ask for HIS WILL in our lives to be done as it is in perfect heaven!
  4. Ask for needs and forgiveness.
  5. Ask for His power to run from evil and be rescued from the prince of this world and his destructive tactics.

NOW, read the following passage with clarity.  Ask, seek and knock on the door to heaven where we will find out what God wants for each one of us—HIS best!  God will provide all that we need!  God surprises us with beyond what we think we need, too!

Matthew—The Law Fulfilled

Matthew 7:7-11, NLT

Effective Prayer

“Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.

“You parents—if your children ask for a loaf of bread, do you give them a stone instead? 10 Or if they ask for a fish, do you give them a snake? Of course not! 11 So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask him.

POINTS TO PONDER…

Can we ask God for a new job?  We can ask for His direction as we seek a new work.  Where God guides, He provides.

Can we ask God for a better car, home, etc.?  We can ask God for his wisdom to replace what is wearing out.  He will show us HIS WILL.  Where God guides, He provides.

Can we ask God for whatever is on our hearts?  God wants us to be completely honest with him.  He already knows what you want but He will provide exactly what we need. 

When we look back on our lives, we will see that what we thought we wanted and prayed for at that time, God protected us from having because He knew what we were praying for most would hurt our growing faith in Him.  If only we could realize the depth of love God has for us.  He died and rose again through Jesus, His Son to save us for eternity.  I think that praying for HIS WILL for our lives is the only way to pray.

It’s all in the seeking…Seek God first!

Abba, Father God in Heaven,

Holy is Your Name.  Great are You, Lord!  Reveal to us your glory, power and strength.  We seek your Kingdom living.  We seek Your Will to be done in every detail of our lives here on earth as it is in heave.  Give us this day your wisdom, insight and understanding.  And forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us.  Lead us not into temptations of all that is wrong for us.  Fight this battle that begins in our minds for us today and always.  Deliver us from evil and evil’s attempts to distract us with longing for stuff that is temporary.  We seek you first this morning, asking for what you want us to be and do for today.  I love you, Lord with all my heart, mind and soul and I seek Your Will. 

In Jesus Name, Amen

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HERE COMES THE JUDGE!

Here Comes the Judge is a 1968 song by legendary comedian Pigmeat Markham. It became one of comedy’s first memes when Sammy Davis Jr. made it a catchphrase on the TV show: Rowan & Martin’s Laugh In.  The song, and Laugh In comedy sketch, became so huge – that 4 other versions of Here Come the Judge were released in the same year – all them making the charts. (The most famous by Shorty Long.)  Here Comes the Judge – also inspired the Baskin-Robbins flavor: Here Comes the Fudge.

Yep, “here comes the judge” was a thing back in the late 60’s.  It still IS a thing today.  We want to be the judge of everyone in our little world of influence—admit it.  We all think we have the best idea, the right way, the obvious solution to any given problem and assume we are the “judge” of character of all people we encounter on any given day. Jesus points out in this passage that “church people” are the worst.

Our first impressions of people are guided by what others did to us our past encounters and relationships.  We judge quickly with presumptions and assumptions.  Judging is our first response when someone enters the room.  Our Jesus, the “You have heard it said, but I say…” Truth teller explains that there is only one Judge of another’s sin and we are not Him.  Jesus reminds us we have enough on our plate to devour without dishing out judgement of what another person has on their plate.  He actually uses the example of having a log in our eye, (which would blind us by the way), while we look for a speck of dust in another person’s eye.  I’m certain this brought a chuckle of laughter that rippled through the crowd on that mountain of learning.  Did He really say that?  Yes, He did.

Jesus taught that the judgement we dish out will be dished out to us. How we treat others is how we will be treated statement drives the point home.  Do you want a huge helping of judgement?  Judge.  If not, judge not. 

However, we MUST judge ourselves—Digging deeper into this “judgy” thing  (Help comes from Warren Wiersbe, Commentator)

Jesus is not only teaching the mountain congregants, but He is also admonishing the Pharisees and other religious teachers of their judgement of all people as well as Jesus, Our Lord!  He teaches that people need to judge themselves first.  We all need to look inside ourselves and judge if we are following Truth and not worldview thinking that is opposite Kingdom of God living. 

Jesus did not forbid us to discern others who influence our thinking, for careful discrimination is essential in the believer’s life. Christian love is not blind (Phil. 1:9–10). The person who believes all that he hears and accepts everyone who claims to be spiritual will experience confusion and great spiritual loss. So, before we judge others, we must judge ourselves.

Points to ponder and realize…

  1. If we first judge ourselves, then we are preparing for that final judgment when we face God. The Pharisees “played God” as they condemned other people, but they never considered that God would one day judge them.
  2. The purpose of self-judgment is to prepare us to serve others. Christians are obligated to help each other grow in grace. When we do not judge ourselves, we not only hurt ourselves, but we also hurt those to whom we could minister. The Pharisees judged and criticized others to make themselves look good (Luke 18:9–14). But Christians should judge themselves so that they can help others look good. There is a difference!
  3. If we do not honestly face up to our own sins and confess them, we blind ourselves to ourselves, and then we cannot see clearly enough to help others.
  4. Jesus used the illustration of the eye to teach us how to have a spiritual outlook on life. We must not pass judgment on others’ motives. We should examine their actions and attitudes, but we cannot judge their motives—for only God can see their hearts.
  5. It is possible for a person to do a good work with a bad motive. It is also possible to fail in a task and yet be very sincerely motivated. When we stand before Christ at the judgment seat, He will examine the secrets of the heart and reward us accordingly (Rom. 2:16; Col. 3:22–25). The image of the eye teaches us another truth: We must exercise love and tenderness when we seek to help others (Eph. 4:15).
  6. Two extremes must be avoided in this matter of spiritual self-examination. The first is the deception of a shallow examination. Sometimes we are so sure of ourselves that we fail to examine our hearts honestly and thoroughly. A quick glance into the mirror of the Word will never reveal the true situation (James 1:22–25).
  7. “The second extreme is what I, (Warren Wiersbe), call a “perpetual autopsy.” Sometimes we get so wrapped up in self-examination that we become unbalanced. We should not look only at ourselves, or we will become discouraged and defeated. We should look by faith to Jesus Christ and let Him forgive and restore us. Satan is the accuser (Rev. 12:10), and he enjoys it when we accuse and condemn ourselves!”

Of pearls and pigs…

Wiersbe relates; “The reason for judgment, then, is not that we might condemn others, but that we might be able to minister to them. Notice that Jesus always dealt with individuals according to their needs and their spiritual condition. He did not have a memorized speech that He used with everybody. He discussed the new birth with Nicodemus, but He spoke of living water to the Samaritan woman. When the religious leaders tried to trap Him, He refused to answer their question (Matt. 21:23–27). It is a wise Christian who first assesses the condition of a person’s heart before sharing the precious pearls.”

HERE COMES THE JUDGE!  Yes, Jesus is coming back to claim His own!  Jesus, the One and Only, Our Perfect and Holy Savior and Lord, will come in the final judgement.  (Read the end of The Book, it’s there!)  Jesus, knows our hearts, is God’s Son, and is the only wise, discerning judge.  He will judge with love, mercy and grace in more ways that we can possibly imagine.  Believe and be saved.

“…For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7b, ESV

“I can’t impress this on you too strongly. God is looking over your shoulder. Christ himself is the Judge, with the final say on everyone, living and dead. He is about to break into the open with his rule, so proclaim the Message with intensity; keep on your watch. Challenge, warn, and urge your people. Don’t ever quit. Just keep it simple.”      2 Timothy 4:1-2, MSG

Matthew—The Law Fulfilled

Matthew 7:1-6, NLT

Do Not Judge Others

“Do not judge others, and you will not be judged. For you will be treated as you treat others. The standard you use in judging is the standard by which you will be judged.

“And why worry about a speck in your friend’s eye when you have a log in your own? How can you think of saying to your friend, ‘Let me help you get rid of that speck in your eye,’ when you can’t see past the log in your own eye? Hypocrite! First get rid of the log in your own eye; then you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend’s eye.

“Don’t waste what is holy on people who are unholy. Don’t throw your pearls to pigs! They will trample the pearls, then turn and attack you.

Abba, Father in Heaven,

Wow, your words require deeper thinking, self-evaluation which includes an “eye exam”!  Forgive me when I judge and make decisions based on first impressions and past experiences only.  Help me to see people, all people, the way you see them.  Keep me alert to The Liar’s distractions and destructive behaviors while being intently focused on you.  You are Truth.  I believe in You.

In Jesus Name, Amen

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PERCEIVED NEEDS VS. REAL NEED

Let’s get right to it, shall we?  What we think we need, spend enormous amounts of time to get, concerned that we will not get it soon enough or often enough takes up our being to the point that we think (and overthink) that what is needed is all up to us. 

You have heard it said, but I say to you…Jesus continues his teaching on the mountain side.  As he teaches, Jesus turns the tables of human thinking once more, turning our mountain of survivalist worry into nuggets of Truth from God.  He speaks Truth about God about His love and care for us.  Sometimes we focus only on the “do not worry” part and feel guilty that we cannot seem to stop worrying.  We worry about worrying!  Stop it!  Look and listen to the depth of Jesus’ teaching.  We sometimes bypass many other Truth statements in this passage that teaches us HOW to live more contented lives with God’s power and strength in us.  Each statement builds on the other, leading us to the heart of the matter.

  1. We have a heart issue.  What our perceived needs are stem from what our hearts desire.
  2. When we look for God, we will see Him and be filled with the Light of Truth.
  3. Who do we serve?  Only God must be the answer.
  4. Serve the One and Only who loves you most and will care for you with all you need. 
  5. Seek God first, everything else will fall into a place of contentment and peace because of a building faith and trust in Him.
  6. God knows us.  God knows what we really need before we know.
  7. “Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.” –Jesus

Playing the background of God’s Word to us is an old hymn, one of my favorites…Written by Thomas O. Chisholm in 1866.  His testimony to God’s faithfulness, love and care for us still speaks to our hearts today.  “Great Is Thy Faithfulness”

Great is Thy faithfulness, O God my Father
There is no shadow of turning with Thee
Thou changest not, Thy compassions, they fail not
As Thou hast been Thou forever wilt be

Great is Thy faithfulness, great is Thy faithfulness
Morning by morning new mercies I see
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided
Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me

Summer and winter, and springtime and harvest
Sun, moon and stars in their courses above
Join with all nature in manifold witness
To Thy great faithfulness, mercy and love

Great is Thy faithfulness, great is Thy faithfulness
Morning by morning new mercies I see
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided
Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me

Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth
Thine own dear presence to cheer and to guide
Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow
Blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside

Great is Thy faithfulness, great is Thy faithfulness
Morning by morning new mercies I see
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided
Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me

Great is Thy faithfulness, O God my Father…Amen!

Matthew—The Law Fulfilled

Matthew 6:19-34, NLT

Teaching about Money and Possessions

19 “Don’t store up treasures here on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal. 21 Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.

22 “Your eye is like a lamp that provides light for your body. When your eye is healthy, your whole body is filled with light. 23 But when your eye is unhealthy, your whole body is filled with darkness. And if the light you think you have is actually darkness, how deep that darkness is!

24 “No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other; you will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and be enslaved to money.

25 “That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are? 27 Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?

28 “And why worry about your clothing? Look at the lilies of the field and how they grow. They don’t work or make their clothing, 29 yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are. 30 And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith?

31 “So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ 32 These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. 33 Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.

34 “So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.

SO…

What is our real need?  What are we going to do about it?

Abba, Father in Heaven,

My real need is all of you in all of me.  I’m learning that the more of my life I turn over to you, the more your peace pours into my soul.  Worry drowns in the thought of your care and provisions.  My burdens are lifted knowing all of life’s concerns and perceived needs are not on my shoulders but in your scope of care. 

You are faithful and unchangeable in your Truth, your care, your love, mercy and grace.  You know me.  You made me.  You saved me.  You know what I need most.  And you give exactly what I need at the time I need it most.  There is no one like you.  Absolutely no one.  All my life is wrapped in You.  Help me to live in faith what I say I believe.  Yes, match my behavior, inside and out, with what I say I believe.  I believe in You.

In Jesus Name, Amen. 

All I have needed your hand has provided,

Great is Your faithfulness

Lord, unto me.

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PIVOTAL PRAYER

At the beginning of lock downed quarantine as the pandemic expanded, the most used word and battle cry among leaders in all walks of life was “pivot”.  We must be “light on our feet and pivot” from where we have been to what lies ahead in order to survive.  We have been forced to change our traditional way of doing anything in this life.  Some revolted against all change, which is not surprising about human nature.  Some of us cannot be moved.  We like what we know.  It’s more comfortable.  Some of us fought for our right to succumb to covid despite all warning and evidence that it may kill you and those around you.  All the while, leaders who must decide what’s next, are realizing that it is necessary to pivot or perish.

Jesus is a leader who has the wisdom of God Himself because Jesus is God in flesh walking among those stuck in religious tradition without a relationship to God.  John opens his gospel with this testimony about who Jesus is;

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” John 1:1-5, NIV

“The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood.” John 1:14, Msg

Jesus, Son of God, is pivotal in the lives of those He touches and teaches.  Jesus comes with “pivotal” life-altering teaching that is revolutionary.  He brings new understanding to the commandment to Love God and love others.  Did some people revolt against His teaching?  I think you know the answer to that one!  The ones who revolted were the ones who had established a life of their own without God.  They liked it that way.  They loved their independence from God.  They loved to show off their religiosity to all those they lorded over with self-made power.  They were not in the mood to pivot.  But the common people began to see and understand Jesus’ ways of understanding God and his ways.  They knew they must pivot or perish.   

The Pharisees and Teachers of The Law had made God’s Law burdensome and impossible for God’s people to fully obey.  When you dig deeper, it wasn’t about obedience to God for them but about the common man being obedient to the men in current power who were very political in nature and practice.  Relationship with God was all but lost to these leaders.  When they prayed, the religious leaders made prayer a performance.  Jesus called them “hypocrites”.  This Greek word comes from those who are masked and play act on a stage.  I am reminded of the quote from William Shakespeare, “All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players: they have their exits and their entrances; and one man in his time plays many parts, his acts being seven ages.”  Life is so much more!

Today the meaning of hypocrisy is describe as the practice of engaging in the same behavior or activity for which one criticizes another or the practice of claiming to have moral standards or beliefs to which one’s own behavior does not conform. In moral psychology, it is the failure to follow one’s own expressed moral rules and principles.  American political journalist Michael Gerson says that political hypocrisy is “the conscious use of a mask to fool the public and gain political benefit”.  Yikes!

Jesus teaches us how to avoid hypocrisy with a pivotal prayer life that seeks God and his will.  This is prayer that is private, spoken with no pretense, with the desire to have a heart to heart with God.  It is our asking for help in knowing God’s will and His guidance in fulfilling His purpose in us and through us.  There are no memorized babblings of prayers written by others that sound nice.  Pivotal prayer is a heart-wrenching, yielded mind asking for God to fill our souls with all of Him in us.  It is also pivotal to our growing relationship with God.  It is asking what HE wants then doing what He says.

Jesus teaches us how to pray to God while he walked the earth.  He teaches that we must lay down our will and embrace the will of God.  Jesus tells both leaders and common people often, I only say and do what the Father tells me.  This is pivotal to our own lifestyle as we grow in relationship with God.  We need to be ready to move when God says to move, be still and know Him when He says to pause and wait for teaching. 

Yes, this relationship between Father and Son is the relationship we can now have, too!  It is a relationship God wants with us!  He died and rose again to talk with us because He loves us!  We can have all the God has for us all because of Jesus!  For us, pivotal prayer, asking for what God wants deepens our relationship with God and changes our behavior.  If it doesn’t, we are merely “actors” on the stage of life. 

Because of this pivotal teaching, the Jews tried all the harder to kill Him. Not only was He breaking the Sabbath, but He was even calling God His own Father, making Himself equal with God.  How did Jesus respond?  “Jesus explained, “I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself. He does only what he sees the Father doing. Whatever the Father does, the Son also does.” John 5:19, NLT

Who are we to do life without God?  Pivot or perish.  We have a choice.

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”  John 3:16, NIV

Prayer is a private, intimate conversation with the One who loves us most!  Listening to God in prayer (conversation, remember?) is pivotal to our daily lives of loving God and loving others.  “The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.” James 5:16b, NLT

Matthew—The Law Fulfilled

Matthew 6:5-18, NLT

Teaching about Prayer and Fasting

“When you pray, don’t be like the hypocrites who love to pray publicly on street corners and in the synagogues where everyone can see them. I tell you the truth, that is all the reward they will ever get. But when you pray, go away by yourself, shut the door behind you, and pray to your Father in private. Then your Father, who sees everything, will reward you.

“When you pray, don’t babble on and on as the Gentiles do. They think their prayers are answered merely by repeating their words again and again. Don’t be like them, for your Father knows exactly what you need even before you ask him! Pray like this:

Our Father in heaven,
    may your name be kept holy.
10 May your Kingdom come soon.
May your will be done on earth,
    as it is in heaven.
11 Give us today the food we need,
12 and forgive us our sins,
    as we have forgiven those who sin against us.
13 And don’t let us yield to temptation,
    but rescue us from the evil one.

14 “If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you. 15 But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins.

16 “And when you fast, don’t make it obvious, as the hypocrites do, for they try to look miserable and disheveled so people will admire them for their fasting. I tell you the truth, that is the only reward they will ever get. 17 But when you fast, comb your hair and wash your face. 18 Then no one will notice that you are fasting, except your Father, who knows what you do in private. And your Father, who sees everything, will reward you.

ONE LAST “PIVOTAL” THOUGHT…

Place Your Life Before God

12 1-2 So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you. –Romans 12:1-2,The Message

Abba, Father in Heaven,

Hallowed is Your Name.  May Your Kingdom come and reign in me and all around me so I see you at work and praise you first and only!  May Your Will be done in every detail of my life today on earth as it is in heaven.  Give us this day all you know we will need.  And forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us.  Lead us not into temptations to fight back or get even, but to run from what evil wants as opposed to what YOU want.  Deliver us from evil and evil’s schemes to bring us down.  Lift us up to where you are in your thinking.  Show us your will and your ways of accomplishing your will and purpose in us and through us.  For you have all power, to you be all glory, honor and praise forevermore.

In Jesus Name, Amen!  I believe.

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WE ARE THE ANSWER TO SOMEONE’S PRAYER?

There are still some people in need in this world who will turn away help if you come with news media who will broadcast the deed in detail while praising the giver.  Most companies and organizations give merely as an ad campaign to draw more attention to their business.  Some give because our government still allows companies a “write off” in taxes when they give.  This means they pay less taxes if they can prove they gave donations or took a loss by giving.  Yes, it makes for good press when the rich can proclaim their generosity to the poor.  It’s the way of this world. 

“You have heard it said, but I say to you…”  Jesus is at it again with teaching the opposite of what the world says.  He continues His teaching on the mountainside to many who continue to gather from surrounding towns who are hungry for Truth.  As expected, Jesus has a different way of thinking on the practice of giving.  “I tell you the truth” are words that leap off the page for me this morning.  As Truth seekers, Jesus changes the way we give by changing the way we think about giving.  That’s who He is and how He thinks.  Think like Jesus.

We give as God leads because of a greater work.  God calls on those who have and are willing to give as the answer to someone praying to God for help.  God has a beautiful way of matching givers with people in need, the receivers.  To God be the glory!  It’s not about us, it’s about how God works and cares for all of us!

Matthew—The Law Fulfilled

Matthew 6:1-4, NLT

Teaching about Giving to the Needy

“Watch out! Don’t do your good deeds publicly, to be admired by others, for you will lose the reward from your Father in heaven. When you give to someone in need, don’t do as the hypocrites do—blowing trumpets in the synagogues and streets to call attention to their acts of charity! I tell you the truth, they have received all the reward they will ever get. But when you give to someone in need, don’t let your left hand know what your right hand is doing. Give your gifts in private, and your Father, who sees everything, will reward you.

SIDE STORY TO THINK ABOUT…(Taken from the biography of George Muller) 

Read more here: 

https://www.guideposts.org/inspiration/inspiring-stories/the-inspiring-life-of-george-m-ller

Night was falling over the harbor of Bristol, England, and in the orphanage founded by George Müller and his wife, the children were getting ready for bed. George was working in his study when his wife arrived with alarming news. “We’re out of milk,” she said. “There isn’t enough for the morning oatmeal.”

George laid aside his pen. This wasn’t the first time that money needed to buy food and other supplies was tight. The Müllers took in their first group of thirty girls in 1836, and their orphanage now housed over a hundred. From the beginning, George remained resolved never to ask for funds from people or to borrow money. He went to God alone for every need, trusting wholly in the Lord’s faithfulness and provision.

The pastor rose from his desk and reached for his wife’s hand. “Mary,” he said, “let us pray.” Two orphanage employees joined them, and together they made their humble yet necessary request to God. Tiny, helpless mouths were depending on them for sustenance. “Be assured, if you walk with Him and look to Him and expect help from Him,” George reminded them afterwards, “He will never fail you.”

Someone knocked on the door. Mary hurried to answer, returning to the study a moment later. She handed her husband an envelope. “It’s a letter, George. Hurry up and open it.”

Enclosed was a sum of money, more than enough for the milk. Within minutes, two more letters arrived with money and pledges of support.

One night while seeking the Lord regarding the orphanage, he heard, “Open thy mouth wide and I will fill it.” And so a great experiment of faith began.

Faced with difficulties regarding the rented houses where the children lived, he dreamed of building an orphan’s home on its own land and with every amenity.  It took eighteen months to amass the initial sum of money, and throughout that time George counted the days he spent in prayer and recorded the funds as they trickled in. Each donation—God’s answer to his prayer rather than the fruit of a plea to man for money—spurred him to continue. Eventually he built five homes, costing more than $100,000 to build, which is over $14,000,000 in today’s currency.

George raised each and every penny for this wonderful ministry on his knees, through unceasing, persistent, thankful prayer and an unwavering faith in God.

Almost two hundred years later, the George Müller Charitable Trust in Bristol still operates today and continues to adhere to George’s commitment to seeking money only through prayer. Tens of thousands of souls—orphans and other needy children, families and the elderly—have been helped.  

As George reminds us, “Every child of God is not called by the Lord to establish schools and orphan houses and to trust in the Lord for means for them. Yet, there is no reason why you may not experience, far more abundantly than we do now, His willingness to answer the prayers of His children.”

Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. –Colossians 4:2

Abba, Father in Heaven,

Lead us to give and to receive gratefully because of your continual work in us.  You always know what is best for us.  You are God and we are not.  Thank you for always being with us.  Thank you for provisions and protection for we are always on your mind.  What a blessed thought! 

“All I have needed, you hand has provided, Great is your faithfulness!” is the song of praise I sing to you this morning!  Thank you for teaching us the truth about giving.  We can never outgive your generous gift of life eternal with sins forgiven.  But we can learn to think and behave more and more like you taught us on the mount of Truth telling.

In Jesus Name, Amen

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